Dortmund have had a rough month of football. Only winning one game the whole month of October is rough. We asked our writers the question: What is wrong with BVB and how can it be fixed? Our answers are below.
Sean Keyer: I wrote an opinion piece about this topic earlier this week. I concluded that the reasons for Dortmund's struggles are a perfect storm of injuries, key playres underperforming, and stubborn tactics from Peter Bosz.
It's not just the high line that's killing this team. The midfield simply cannot maintain possession of the ball, really no matter who plays, but especially when Castro and Sahin are on the pitch. Neither Götze nor Kagawa contribute enough defensively. Compounding this problem is the positioning of the full backs. Against Hannover, Schmelzer and Bartra were playing so ridiculously high up the pitch (even further than the center backs!) that whenever there was a turnover in midfield, Hannover would be able to charge straight at the now isolated Zagadou and Sokratis. You can pick on those two as much as you want, but you can't expect them to consistently prevent goals when they're being outnumbered 3-2 or 4-2. If you go back and watch the highlights of that match, on most of Hannover's best chances, Bartra and Schmelzer were behind the play scrambling to catch up and relieve the center backs. This isn't a complete summary of Dortmund's tactical weaknesses, but it's one that I particularly noticed against Hannover.
What frustrates me the most, though, is Bosz's inability to make changes mid-match. I can't remember a single match over the past month when Bosz made a tactical change, other than the full-speed ahead subs he made against Real Madrid. Whether it's adding a third center back, moving the full backs back, or anything else, I just want to see him do something. Unfortunately he really has not shown the ability to do this.
What to do now: I'm still not in favor of firing Bosz. I'm not sure who would replace him, and I still think that firing a coach the moment he struggles is a bad business practice, and sends a bad sign to potential coaches. At the same time, things need to change. I would ideally have Watzke sit down with him and re-evaluate the way he manages the team. I would also play Weigl and Dahoud a lot more, who are our two most effective midfielders.
That being said, if Tuchel wants to come back, I'd be all for it.
Joeseph Mahfood: I think our issue is the midfield. Not having weigl hurts, but we lack a true box to box midfielder who can contribute going forward and tracking back. Sahin and Castro don’t provide enough cover for our backline. Most people blame the high line, but it’s not really in the defense in my opinion. The midfield just isn’t good enough, constantly leaving the backline exposed. There’s no pace in midfield, and no one making important tackles. We need to tighten up in the middle of the pitch.
Joshua Hall: Simple; Zorc needs to have a come to Jesus with Bosz. Bosz needs to save his job by convincing Zorc of his plan and direction. Because right now, there is none on the pitch. He has to convince Zorc that it will work. Zorc and Aki have to set marks that he has to meet. That’s it.
Nick Kapatos: I think it all comes from Bosz. Time and time again he’s stuck with his dangerous high line, and ever since the Champions League games against Tottenham and Real, it has been exposed in the league. We’ve seen time after time after time since the October international break teams bust through the high line and get in on Burki with predictable results, and Bosz has done nothing to fix it other than questionable lineup changes.
I think the September schedule and the winning run masked a lot of problems with this. Of course you’re going to run over teams like Wolfsburg, Köln, and Hamburg. Even the Monchengladbach game should’ve been a lot closer than the score line suggested, but the players really came to play that day.
But now that we’re into the tougher portion of our schedule, against teams and managers that are challenging for the league title and spots in European competition, we’re getting exposed. It’s on Bosz to adapt his gameplan and tactics now that he’s been exposed.
His system also appears to put a lot of pressure on our wingers to make things happen, because I haven’t seen a lot from our central midfielders lately. It doesn’t help that Bosz isn’t playing guys like Weigl or Dahoud together, instead trying to cram Sahin and Castro into the midfield with Gotze or Kagawa and keep your fingers crossed.
I don’t know what the solution is. If we dump Bosz it could make things worse, but if we stick with Bosz it could also make things worse with a system that isn’t working. All I know is that the high line needs to be dialed back a bit or else it’s definitely going to get worse before it gets better.
Adam Snavely: when Thomas Tuchel took over the team, we had a coach with a strong concept of defending, who subsequently lost one of the best defenders in the world and never really got a comparable replacement while the core members of the defense began to hit ages where drop-off in form/a higher frequency of injuries are to be expected. When Bosz inherited the team, our star defensive midfielder was hurt, we had to play an 18 year old center back at left back, our new exciting midfielder was signed by Tuchel and still doesn’t look like he has any idea just where he fits in with the team, and our defense was given no clear upgrades over the offseason even though it was clear last season that that was the area most in need of improvement. A combination of pre-signings made before Tuchel left and injuries have left Dortmund’s defense looking like one of David S. Pumpkins’ backup dancers after a rough night out on the town.
We have no clear identity in defense or defensive midfield, and it’s also hamstringing the opportunities we get in possession while in attack, as we’ve relied almost exclusively on wondergoals to try to win games. This is probably to be expected when Gonzalo Castro is your go-to guy in the midfield. There is no clear solution, in my mind, outside of the coach getting a hold of his players and being able to communicate a definitive defensive strategy, because looking at this defense and knowing what they were and were not capable of last year under Tuchel, it’s clear they have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing half the time. I’m not one to call for the sack so early, but right now, I don’t know if Bosz can do this.
Brian Meyers: Bosz is letting us make the same mistakes over and over again. While we have been the victim of bad finishing and bad refereeing this month, it does not excuse his tactics game after game.. We should not look so week against teams like Hannover and APOEL. Castro needs to be removed from the lineup and Bartra should not be playing fullback anymore. Weigl should start every single game he is healthy. He did it for two years in a row, Bosz needs to make the right call. If things don’t get better for BVB Bosz proably should not stay on as manger. With Bayern and 04 coming up, Bayern in the Pokal, and a almost guaranteed exit from UCL Bosz is on the hot seat.